Squadron provides parting Christmas cheer

Published on LEUT Callum Newton (author), United States Navy (photographer)

Members from NUSQN 725 with Christmas gifts for the children who will be in Shands Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, over the holiday season. 

From left- Lieutenant Stephen McConville, Leading Seaman Celeste Bowie, Able Seaman Tenae Scott, Commander David Frost, Lieutenant Daniel Heffernan and Lieutenant Callum Newton. (photo: USN PRO)
Members from NUSQN 725 with Christmas gifts for the children who will be in Shands Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, over the holiday season. From left- Lieutenant Stephen McConville, Leading Seaman Celeste Bowie, Able Seaman Tenae Scott, Commander David Frost, Lieutenant Daniel Heffernan and Lieutenant Callum Newton.

As Royal Australian Navy Romeo Seahawk helicopter flying operations ceased in Jacksonville, Florida, and the final aircraft returned to Australia, the crews donated Christmas toys as a parting gift for children of Shands, the major Jacksonville hospital. 

Commander David Frost and squadron members presented the toys to Ms Elizabeth Ward representing Shands Hospital on 11 December. The presentation was coincidentally conducted in front of a mural depicting Sydney Harbour in a scene from Finding Nemo. The toys will be distributed to children in the paediatric department who are in hospital during the lead up to and possibly over Christmas. 

"Jacksonville has been the home of NUSQN 725 for the last two years, this city is very much in the DNA of our new squadron.

"It is altogether fitting that as the last of us depart Jacksonville for our home, that we should leave these toys to be given to the children of Jacksonville to comfort them when they are away from their homes in hospital," Commander Frost said.

"I'm not sure if you realise this, but this hospital has also had a connection to NUSQN 725 as your rooftop helipad was often utilised by our Romeo helicopters completing training evolutions. And so it is nice to say thank you for using that facility in person with this toy donation today."

Ms Ward explained that the paediatric emergency department often sees between five to twenty children daily, ranging from infants to teenagers.

"We will get together with the Child Life Department to ensure that these toys are given to those in need. Thank you very much for this kind donation," she said.  

The toys presented were purchased with money donated by the men and women of NUSQN 725. The Squadron has been based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida since 2013 and is currently in the process of returning to Nowra, NSW, for operations in Australia.

Commanding Officer NUSQN 725, Commander David Frost, RAN, presents Christmas gifts for the children to Ms Elizabeth Ward at Shands Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida.

Commanding Officer NUSQN 725, Commander David Frost, RAN, presents Christmas gifts for the children to Ms Elizabeth Ward at Shands Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida.